Cote d'Ivoire: Protests Against Ouattara's Candidacy

A few minutes after the incumbent made known his intention to run for third term, hundreds of protesters took to the streets.

Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in major towns of the country to protest against President Alassane Ouattara's decision to run for a third term despite an early announcement that he will step down at the end of his second mandate. On Thursday, July 6, 2020, President Ouattara in a nationwide address took many by surprise by announcing his candidacy. "I have decided to respond favorably to the call of my fellow citizens. I am a candidate in the presidential election of October 31, 2020 Presidential election". He emphasized.

Though on March 5 the Ivorian Statesman and his party RHDP had chosen his former Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, as party candidate for the October 31st rendezvous, his death on July 8, 2020 is said to have changed the party's strategy.

Since the announcement, there has been several reactions from the political class with regards to the eligibility of the RHDP candidate. According to the opposition Ouattara's decision contravenes Article 183 of the new Ivorian constitution which does not allow for three consecutive mandates. Affi N"Guessan Presidential candidate for the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), "It is a deplorable decision by President Ouattara to run for elections. The 2016 constitution does not permit him. For several months he himself has made it clear that he would not be part of the election". The spokesperson for Guillaume Soro's party Moussa Touré said, "We expected better from a head of state such as Alassane Ouattara. By standing as candidate, he is violating the Constitution of Côte d'Ivoire. And this is unacceptable". Maurice Kakou Guikahué, the executive secretary of the PDCI (Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire) told RFI that Ouattara's candidacy is illegal. "I know what I'm talking about, I contributed to the drafting of the 2016 Constitution. Ouattara then solemnly told us that he will never seek a third mandate and today I have been cheated on," he told RFI.

But the ruling RHDP argues that the 2016 Constitution resets the clock so that Ouattara's first two mandates did not count anymore. "We have adopted a new Constitution in November 2016 and its laws make provision for what happens henceforth. This is now the first election of our third Republic," Adama Bictogo, executive director of the RHDP, told RFI.

With most political stakeholders already preparing to take legal actions, it would now be left on the Constitutional Court to rule on whether this candidacy is legal or not.

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